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Letters in Cherokee: A Pen Pal Program Enhances Cultural Interactions

Immersion students in two Cherokee Native American language programs exchange letters in a pen pal program to learn more about each other.
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A pen pal program has immersion students from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina exchanging letters and promoting stronger cultural interactions.

Participating students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade from the tribes have been sending cards, letters and items back and forth—all in the Cherokee language. The students in Tahlequah, Oklahoma recently received a package filled with items their pals had collected from the forest. The student’s had bagged the North Carolina sticks, moss, lichens and rocks and labeled each with their Cherokee name.

“The kids are excited and they feel like they’re getting to know the other kids a little bit,” said Denise Chaudoin, Cherokee Nation Immersion School second-grade teacher, in a release. “It’s a really good program for the kids in both areas to get to know each other and realize we’re all Cherokees, whether we’re from the east or west.”

The pen pal program not only improves communication in Cherokee, but it also helps the students learn other Cherokee dialects.

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“The Atse Kituwah Academy in Cherokee, N.C. has students beginning at six months of age through second grade,” Sequoyah Schools Curriculum Director Samantha Benn-Duke said in the release. “We have communicated with them sporadically in the past, mostly via iChat, but we hope the new pen pal program will elicit stronger and more frequent communication between classes.”